Best Practices for Web Accessibility: Building Inclusive Websites
Table of content
- Understand Web Accessibility Guidelines
- Semantic HTML
- Focus Styles
- Alternative Text for Images
- Video and Audio Accessibility
- Responsive Design
- Color Contrast
- Aria Roles and Attributes
- Form Accessibility
- Testing and Validation
- Progressive Enhancement
- Skip Navigation Links
- Plain Language
- User Testing
- Document Accessibility
- Educate Your Team
- Continuous Improvement
Web accessibility is the practice of designing and developing websites and web applications that can be used by people with disabilities. Building inclusive websites is not only ethically important but also a legal requirement in many regions. Here are some best practices for web accessibility to ensure your websites are inclusive and can be used by a wide range of users:
Understand Web Accessibility Guidelines
Familiarize yourself with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which provide a comprehensive set of guidelines and success criteria for making web content accessible.
Use semantic HTML elements (e.g.,
<button>) to properly structure and label content. Semantic HTML helps screen readers and other assistive technologies interpret and present content correctly.
Ensure that all interactive elements, such as links, buttons, and form fields, are navigable and usable with a keyboard. Test your website's functionality without a mouse.
Make sure that focus styles for interactive elements are clearly visible and distinct. This helps users who navigate your site with a keyboard or screen reader.
Alternative Text for Images
Provide descriptive and meaningful alternative text (alt text) for all images and non-text content. Alt text should convey the purpose and content of the image.
Video and Audio Accessibility
Offer transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions for multimedia content to ensure that users with disabilities can access the information.
Ensure your website is responsive and works well on various screen sizes and devices. This is not only good for accessibility but also for overall user experience.
Maintain adequate color contrast between text and its background to make content readable for users with low vision or color blindness. WCAG provides specific guidelines for contrast ratios.
Aria Roles and Attributes
Implement ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) roles and attributes to enhance the accessibility of complex widgets and dynamic content, such as modal dialogs and sliders.
Label form fields properly and use HTML features like
<label> elements, fieldset/legend for grouping related inputs, and the aria-describedby attribute to associate form fields with their descriptions.
Testing and Validation
Regularly test your website with accessibility testing tools and screen readers. Automated tools like Axe, Wave, and the WAVE browser extension can help identify issues.
Build websites with a progressive enhancement approach, which means providing basic functionality and content for all users and enhancing it for those with modern browsers and assistive technologies.
Skip Navigation Links
Include "skip to content" links at the top of your page to allow keyboard users to bypass repetitive navigation menus and go directly to the main content.
Use plain and simple language in your content. This benefits users with cognitive disabilities and those whose first language is not English.
Conduct usability testing with people with disabilities. They can provide valuable insights into real-world accessibility challenges.
Ensure that downloadable documents (e.g., PDFs) on your site are also accessible. Provide text-based alternatives when possible.
Educate Your Team
Train your development and content teams about web accessibility. Everyone involved in web development should understand the importance of creating inclusive websites.
Accessibility is an ongoing process. Regularly review and update your website to address accessibility issues and adapt to evolving standards and technologies. By following these best practices for web accessibility, you can make your websites more inclusive, providing a better experience for all users, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. It's not only a matter of compliance but also a commitment to creating a web that is accessible to everyone.